Separating the Man from the Music

How R Kelly fans hear notes of sexual abuse underlying their favorite songs

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Separating the Man from the Music

Casey Stevenson

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Robert Kelly, known as R Kelly, has been the voice behind many hip hop classic songs, such as “I Believe I Can Fly​,” and ​”Down Low​.” But, recently, he has been accused of engaging of intercourse and sexual abuse of underage girls, with evidence of tapes of him having intercourse with these girls and the testimonies of these victims, whether it be through documentaries or interviews. Among fans of his music, a problem has arisen: “Can his music still be enjoyed without attaching his crimes to it?”

R Kelly and his ongoing offenses came into the spotlight after a documentary came out titled “Surviving R Kelly,” that shined light on his crimes and interviewed his victims. He had, allegedly, been dating and keeping underage and young adult girls at his estates and controlling their lifestyles to match his interests. Many of these girls have come out and elaborated on how Kelly would make them wear certain clothes, restrict their cell phone use, dictate their schedule and what they ate, and would force them to engage in activities with him as he filmed. Ever since the release of these allegations by popular sources, such as Buzzfeed, Kelly’s reputation has been tarnished.

With his tarnished reputation, these allegations have affected Kelly’s credibility as a musician, and people are starting to boycott his music. Some radio stations even pulled his music off of their stations due to requests from listeners. Fans of the music are debating if you can still listen to R Kelly’s music anymore without being regarded as a sympathizer. The same debate has come up with Michael Jackson, following the release of a Lifetime documentary detailing how he allegedly abused underage boys.

While R Kelly has made some good music, he has undoubtedly been accused of some dreadful actions against young women. It is up to listeners to decide whether or not the music can be separated from R Kelly himself.